Three go-to techniques for primary market research – Elaine Chen

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Elaine Chen

From The Huffington Post

When Steve Blank wrote the book “The Four Steps to the Epiphany”, he brought a sea change in the way technology entrepreneurs do business.  Rather than plow ahead with a technology-led process, most entrepreneurs have embraced “customer development”.  Getting out of the building and doing primary market research has saved a great many startups from solving the wrong problems, and repeating the mistakes of projects like Google Glass.

You don’t know what you don’t know

When you are just getting started, the first thing to do is to admit that you don’t know what you don’t know. You have hypotheses about your target market and end users, but you don’t know if your intuition is right.

What you need to do at this stage is “problem research”. This is the phase in primary market research where you try to understand the problem. The technique that is central to the Lean Startup movement, MVP (minimum viable product) testing, is all about “solution research”, which I will cover in a separate post.

Three go-to techniques for problem research

Problem research is best done using qualitative research techniques which companies that value consumer insights, such as Procter and Gamble, has been doing for decades.

There are three go-to techniques that are particularly helpful in quickly and efficiently gathering insights to help you build knowledge early on:

  1. Detailed interviews – the researcher interviews subjects to understand their needs, wants and expectations
  2. Observation – the researcher observes and sometimes shadows the subject to understand their behaviors
  3. Immersion – the researcher keeps notes as he or she navigates a particular situation or uses a product or service

Read the full post at The Huffington Post.

Elaine Chen is a startup veteran, product strategy and innovation consultant, and author who has brought numerous hardware and software products to market.

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